Thursday, September 06, 2007

You Call This a War?

You can have a War on All Drugs or a War on No Drugs, but our War on Some Drugs just leads a druggy, self-absorbed culture to emphasize those that they can get easily and mainly legally while feeding the hypocrisy, waste, and corruption that characterize our crim just system today. As this latest report shows, painkillers and alcohol have pushed our abuse and addiction totals higher even while we pack our prisons and bust our budgets with the folks who try the other stuff. As we’ve noted before, we don’t create a rational and consistent approach to substance abuse in this country because we’ve attached a narrative to each drug, some of which say it’s okay, or at least we won’t do anything, if you screw yourself up with this one while others say you’re evil if you do the exact same thing with that one. Some of the narratives give starring roles for “heroes” who fight the “bad guys” and others don’t, so the ones that allow us to act out those fantasies fall hard on the people who use the narrative’s drug while those who use other drugs without heroes/villains get off scot free from our legal system. If we were serious about minimizing the damages of abusive substances, we’d have one narrative for all of them, and it wouldn’t look like any of the ones we’re addicted to (yes, our “war” is narrative crack for too many people—I’d love to get the dopamine level readings on some of our WWE-like drug warriors). Here are the key grafs of the story on the report, but the whole thing’s worth your attention.

More young U.S. adults are abusing prescription medications, particularly painkillers, according to the government's annual report on substance abuse released on Thursday.

Overall, in 2006, 22.6 million people -- 9.2 percent of Americans ages 12 and up -- either abused or were addicted to drugs or alcohol in the prior year, according to estimates in the report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

That is up slightly from an estimated 22.2 million people, or 9.1 percent of the population, in last year's report.

The 2006 report found that non-medical use of prescription drugs, mostly pain relievers, among young adults increased from 5.4 percent in 2002 to 6.4 percent in 2006.
The agency said 3.2 million Americans were dependent on or abused both alcohol and illicit drugs and 3.8 million were dependent on or abused illicit drugs but not alcohol.

Another 15.6 million were dependent on or abused alcohol but not illicit drugs, the agency added.

The report showed that fewer adolescents ages 12 to 17 said they had used illicit drugs in the prior month -- the rate dropped from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.9 percent in 2005 and 9.8 percent in 2006.

Current marijuana use among those ages 12 to 17 dropped from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2006, with the decline seen particularly among boys, according to the report.

The agency also found that the level of under-age drinking among those ages 12 to 20 remained unchanged since 2002, at 28.3 percent in 2006. The legal age for drinking alcohol in the United States is generally 21.

(You get that? We’re on war on pot and other illegal drugs, which are going down without these kids being imprisoned or seriously facing the threat of it while alcohol stays the same. Let’s pin some medals on some people’s chests.)

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